Feb 10, 2014

A great show at Copetown

Many members of the S Scale Workshop turned out on Sunday for the Copetown Train Show, a much-anticipated annual event in this town just west of Hamilton, Ontario.

Several of the Workshop's Free-mo style modules were on hand. Workshop member Jim Martin, who was involved with this year's display, picks up the story...

- Trevor


It’s hard to believe it’s been eight years since our Free-mo layout debuted at Copetown.  For those who couldn’t make Copetown this year (and there weren’t very many) here’s my report.

Saturday was the usual relaxed set up. David, Oliver, Simon, John, Andy and I decided to forgo the Saturday night slide show at the hall and instead had an enjoyable meal down the hill at Winchesters in Dundas.

Yes - Simon! Simon Parent expended the most energy, trailering his fantastic module from MontrĂ©al Saturday morning and then driving back home Sunday night after the show wrapped up. John was the next long distance hauler, bringing his Burnt River module from Grafton. Andy brought both his modules and set them up for us to run while he worked the MLW Services table and I brought the train turntables to complete this year’s variation of the Workshop layout.  

David was able to get away from his race car duties to run trains with us, and it was great to see Oliver out both days. Fredrick Adlhock, the N scale modeller who joined us at last December's Royal Botanical Gardens show, rounded out the Sunday crew. He was a bonus for us because it didn’t look like he’d be able to get time from work. We even found a Workshop shirt for him to wear.

David’s son Conner also arrived with the rest of the Clubine family and did his usual fine job on throttle duty. Trevor and Chris showed up to visit Sunday. Talking to Chris seemed like old times, and Trevor shot some layout video, which is presented below. Enjoy if you watch...

Simon has done further scenic work on his module, a small house and lots more trees and grass.  Motive power highlights were Simon’s newly completed Pacific, and David’s GP-9.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to say hello and for the many nice words about our modular layout. And if you missed us, be sure to check our upcoming events page - Visiting the S Scale Workshop - to find out where we'll be next. There's nothing planned as I write this, but as soon as we have our next appearance firmed up, we'll post the details there.

- Jim

(Follow this link to YouTube where you can enjoy this video in larger formats)

Feb 3, 2014

See you at Copetown 2014

Members of the S Scale Workshop will be displaying their modules at the 2014 Copetown Train Show - happening February 9th (this coming Sunday) in the Hamilton, Ontario area.

Visit the Copetown Train Show website for details, including a map and hours.

For many, the easiest way to get to Copetown is to take Highway 403 to the Copetown exit (Regional Road 52), then drive north to Governors Road.

Below is a photo taken at the Copetown show four years ago. A lot has changed since then, and this year the Workshop layout will feature at least one module making its very first Copetown appearance.

Mark Copetown in your calendar - and maybe we'll see you there!

Jan 3, 2014

Workshop in the S Gaugian

(Workshop member Jim Martin reports...)

We are once more in print...

This time we have a cover story in the January/February 2014 issue of S Gaugian:

January / February 2014 S Gaugian magazine.
Visit www.heimburgerhouse.com to subscribe.

That's Workshop member John Johnston's beautiful scratch-built through truss bridge on the cover.

Editor Don Heimburger and Associate Editor Susan O'Brien, along with Contributing Artist Joe Kimber, did a great job with the photos and text we sent them.

If you would like your own copy, you can go direct to Heimburger House, where you can order current and back issues of the S Gaugian. The magazine is also available in many fine train stores, including the Credit Valley Railroad Company in the Toronto area.

One small clarification - something I didn't make clear to Don when I submitted the article: Our current travelling layout carries only the S Scale Workshop name - not Ridgehill Central, which was the name of our first portable layout.

Nevertheless, Don and the crew did a great job for us and we thank them.

- Jim

(Editor's Note: While this article is not - yet - available to read online, you can enjoy several past articles about the Workshop and its members. Follow the link to The Workshop in Print.)

Dec 18, 2013

HO, HO, HO with S, S, S!

(Once again, the Workshop took part in a holiday-themed railway show. Member Jim Martin reports...)

(John and David peer over the backdrop as the Christmas train rolls by...)

This Christmas season the Workshop was again invited to participate at the annual model train show at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, Ontario.

Andy Malette and John Johnston were back this year, joined by David and Oliver Clubine, along with yours truly.

Even without the wide variety of invited layouts, it’s worth dropping by to see the RBG’s own setup of garden scale trains running through landscapes made entirely of botanical materials…scenery bridges, and structures are all living plants or constructs of bark, bamboo, twigs, seeds, nuts…you name it:

Speaking of nuts, this is a show where we permit ourselves to go a bit nuts with fanciful trains we would not run any other time of the year. Model train shows are a form of show business and if groups understand that, they will tailor their “acts” for the audience - in this case, kids of all ages.

Andy is the big instigator here with his Christmas train:
(Andy and John watch the Christmas train from behind the backdrop)

Among Andy's special rolling stock, Rudolf plays his own reindeer game riding around in a covered hopper...

... there is a flatcar load of brightly wrapped gifts...

... and even the caboose is festooned with holiday stickers:

For my part I loaded up some cars with candy canes and had Skippy the Stegosaurus peeking out a box car door:

Kids like dinosaurs, but they like candy canes even better.

What looks like a real big model train riding on a flatcar is actually an N scale CNR E-10 Mogul crafted by a young modeller at the adjoining N-trak layout:

We both thought it would be fun to load it on an S scale flat car.  I think we’ll be seeing more of Frederick at future shows as he spent more time at our layout than his. 

Finally, here's one of our periscopes in action:

We have three of these that we take to shows - primarily for wheelchair visitors, but in their absence we loan them to the kids. It’s fun watching the light go on as they figure out how to use them. For visual continuity, these periscopes are painted in the layout fascia colours and have the group logo for a little additional promotion and good will.

Till next time, cheers - and happy holidays!

- Jim

Nov 15, 2013

Pssst! Wanna buy some history?

(Workshop member Jim Martin visited a local train show... and files this report):

I saw and held some remarkable S scale history this past weekend.

A few weeks back I wrote about my S scale mentor, Arthur Lomax, who passed away almost 13 years ago. Arthur was in S a looong time, and the collection he left behind is a tangible record of 3/16"=1' scale. This past weekend his son Phillip Lomax and I worked a table at the Ancaster, Ontario model railroad flea market, selling off much of Arthur’s stuff.

Friend David Woodhead (the guy who composed and played the great original music for The ModelRailway Show podcast) dropped by the table for a visit, and like me, was fascinated with what he saw. Thankfully he had his camera with him.

Exhibit A: HO wasn’t the only scale to have a model of the iconic B&O Docksider. Rex made a fine quality model in S back in the 50s. This one still looks good, and looks ready to get to work in the tight confines of an urban switching layout...

Exhibit B: The two Alco yard switchers you see at the far end of the table are by Miller, probably late 40s or early 50s. They weigh a ton and have actual traction motors on the axles - four per loco - but no gearing. Each motor armature is the axle! Not a lot of low speed control. At full tilt they would likely become armour-piercing shells...

Exhibit C: Wow - an unassembled 75-year old locomotive kit with original box and instructions! This is by The Cleveland Model and Supply Company, Inc. - and the instruction sheet is dated 1937. Back then Cleveland called 1:64 “CD Gage”. David especially liked the lettering font on the instructions. It looks like classic “draftsman” and appears to be done by hand. As for the kit, check out the wood boiler and tender body. Tender rivets are an embossed paper overlay. The white metal bits all appear to be of high quality. This has to be a rare find. It should remain forever unassembled as a part of our history...

None of these items sold - they are still available to interested hobby historians. And there are even more historic loco kits that didn’t make it to the show. Perhaps we’ll look at them in a future post...

- Jim

Oct 21, 2013

Getting More Done on New Specs

After Springfield last winter, we decided to work on new specs to protect against shorts and help with track alignment at the ends of the modules.  We came up with a circuit breaker for each module set and rail butt joints soldered to PC board at the ends of the modules.  This was to protect the DCC system and to make it easier with set up with respect to rail alignment between modules.  Prior to this we had shorts and surges in the DCC system and used bridge rails between the modules which proved time consuming and problematic.

When John and I  were setting up at the CanAm 2013 Meet, I noticed that I still had not added the rail butt joints.    So, I decided to correct this omission  as soon as I got the modules home and back on their legs.  I used wet Bounty® Paper Towels to soak the roadbed and ties at the ends for a couple of hours then scraped off the ballast and the ties.  Shown below is one of the ends of the Wetlands.

Once dry, I added the really cool laser cut PC board tie sets designed for module ends by Larry Morton of  Tomalco Track and sold by same.  We got these at NASG Convention in Scranton.  They fit the bill perfectly.  Now there will be no more bridge rails, only butt joints.  As you can see, the ties already have a cut in the foil to insulate them.  I glued them down with water based contact cement.

Tomorrow, I will solder the rails in place and now there will be a solid set of rail ends to join to with the other modules.  All my modules are being upgraded in the same fashion.  Now to celebrate(like I ever really need a reason).

The 2013 CanAm S Scale Social: In the spirit of Arthur

(Workshop member Jim Martin reports on this past weekend's CanAm S Scale Social - an annual get-together that he organizes near his home in Ontario's Niagara Peninsula. Well done, Jim!)

One of my early mentors in S Scale was Arthur Lomax, a unique personality and a fine friend. In addition to being a great model railroading buddy, he and his lovely wife Muriel were the poster parents for growing old gracefully. Living in bucolic surroundings; surrounded by friends, hobbies and interests; and joyful in each other’s company; they became life’s model for my wife Cheryl and me. Both are now gone but we think of them often, and fondly.

Arthur was very active socially in S scale, noted for holding gatherings of western New York and southern Ontario S scalers/gaugers in his home in Flamborough, Ontario. They were fun get togethers, but with Arthur gone they sort of petered out… the Canadians staying on their side of the border and the Americans on theirs. Nothing unpleasant, just life getting in the way during the passage of time.

A few years back, I thought it would be fun to restore the tradition, so I emailed my friend Bud Rindfleisch in Hamburg, New York. He would spread the word for me on his side of the ditch and I’d contact the Canucks. I rented a community hall just down the Lake Erie shoreline in Lowbanks - arranged for a buddy to cater soup and sandwiches - and basically left it up to everyone to show up and make their own fun. Easy formula.

The result was a success from the get go. Two dozen people showed up, old acquaintances were renewed, and the conversation flowed effortlessly. In subsequent years the event has had minor tweaks with sell and swap tables, model displays, S Scale Workshop modules, mini-clinics, and visits to local layouts.

I call it the CanAm S Scale Social.

This year’s event is just over, and from the laughter and fellowship I’d hazard a guess that it was a successful gathering. The photo shows us all tucking into lunch. Layout visits after leaving the hall were to Jim and Barbara Tucker’s amazing HO layout under construction in nearby Winger, and my own home layout here in Wainfleet.

Although Arthur and Muriel are no longer with us, I have remained good friends with their son Phillip. He attended this year’s event with some of his father’s S Scale for sale. Phillip has decided he won’t have time for model railroading because he’s engaged in the herculean task of scanning and cataloging his father’s thousands of railroad negatives, a hobby in itself which is sure to yield many treasures.

It was fun watching Phillip making easy conversation with some of the folks who used to attend his dad’s gatherings. It all felt very circular and warm. Here’s to you, Arthur!

- Jim